January 1, 2006 - Hiking Around Laguna Verde

Happy New Year from the Berg Adventures 2006 Ojos expedition.  We had a great day here on New Year’s Day 2006 at our home on Laguna Verde Lake.  You’ll remember that this is at 14,500 ft (4420 m) above sea level.

First of all for our celebrations on New Year’s Eve last night it was really enjoyable and colorful.  We had balloons hanging on our tents, Leila took care of party favors and hats for everyone to wear and yes we popped open some Chilean sparkling wine, although at these elevations those of us who took any at all just took a little bit as a gesture for good luck in the New Year.  We didn’t want to drink much being at this altitude. We also didn’t stay up very late; 9:30pm was as late as any of us made it.  We just had to take some comfort that it was New Year’s or midnight somewhere in the world.

Today we got up and had a really great day, we did one of my very favorite hikes in the entire world, we walked around Laguna Verde Lake.  Niki who you will remember had charged up front on our climb from Santa Rosa Lake with Juancho was feeling a little under the weather today and he and Juan Carlos only joined us for about the first mile and a half of our walk out to Red Rock Buttes out on the north side of Laguna Verde Lake.  The rest of us continued walking around the lake where about half way around we had to wade across fresh water inlets coming into the lake.  Bob and Ken being the experienced hikers that they are, managed to keep their shoes on and keep their feet dry all the way across.  Brian, Roger, Leila and I took our boots off and got our feet wet.

It’s always sunny here and quite windy at times and surprisingly warm for these elevations and stunningly beautiful.  We continued our way around to the north end of the lake where we found a dead puma, an indication of what a wild area this is.  Now the puma has been petrified by the blowing salt and was actually preserved, it was hard to tell how long it had been there.  It was a very elegant and sobering sign of the wild world up here.

At 8.5 miles at the north end of the lake we saw a real welcome sight, we saw Samu our trusty 4-wheel drive vehicle.  Most of us jumped in and took the ride but Ken, Bob and Juancho decided to do the full 11.5 mile walk around the lake back to camp.  When we got to camp Charlie was waiting with fresh cold watermelon which was delicious after the long dusty hike around the lake and most of us are going to get in the hot springs right now and soak in the late afternoon after an amazing day for these guys.

22,841 feet
6962 meters

22,637 feet
6900 meters